Review: Iconoclasts (PS4/PSV)

Review: Iconoclasts (PS4/PSV)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita
  • PC, Mac, Linux

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro / Vita
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
  • PlayStation TV Compatible No
  • Cross-Buy Yes
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Iconoclasts
Format: PS4 (212 MB) | PSV (421 MB)
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Bifrost Entertainment
Developer: Konjak
Original MSRP: $19.99 (US), £15.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
I had to refer to the spelling for Iconoclasts a couple of times while writing this review. What the hell is Iconoclasts? After playing this awesome little retro game, I came to realize that Iconoclasts is the name of a game that I won’t soon forget.

On the surface, there is a familiarity for those who grew up with a SEGA Genesis or Super Nintendo. Games like Wonder Boy and Exile lend their DNA to Iconoclasts, but this newcomer takes things in a different direction with a deeper narrative involving a corrupt religious organization that punishes any interaction with technology.

You control Robin, a tinkerer with a love of technology. With such an obsession etched into her very being, it would seem impossible for her to avoid getting into trouble with this group of religious zealots. And get in trouble she does.

Almost immediately I realized that these characters aren’t the happy lot that I’ve controlled in similar games in the past. That’s not to say that Iconoclasts is a depressing endeavor, rather that rescuing a princess or finding a hidden treasure takes a back seat to surviving in a world that is hunting you down for wanting to advance. The philosophical undertones are absolutely worn on the outside.

Also on the outside is an engaging side-scroller with shooting evocative of Treasure’s Gunstar Heroes and puzzles more akin to newer platformers like Ratchet and Clank. Heck, Robin’s primary weapon is a giant wrench.

What’s interesting is that bosses – one of the game’s biggest strengths – are often a puzzle to defeat themselves, so guns blazing isn’t the only solution to boss battles. Robin also has the option to update her weapons and person with augments that you can purchase with in-game currency.

Everything about it feels polished with a tight control system that never makes you feel like dying is your fault, and while the game is challenging, this is not a brutal affair that punishes harshly. It’s just a fun experience with an interesting premise and some excellent gameplay.

Visuals:
Visuals in the modern way are more than just pretty polygons and volumetric lighting. Iconoclasts proves that a retro game can still shine beautifully among the polygonal titans.

Vibrant color and fluid animation brings this retro world to life. Robin and her supporting cast contain animations that go beyond just gameplay. Expressiveness during in-game cinematics is exemplary, even for these little 16-bit characters.

Audio:
Retro visuals are nothing without some catchy tunes and the game doesn’t disappoint. With some great music and authentic, but clean sound effects, the experience evokes a bygone era without sounding rudimentary.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
It’s always a great feeling when a game rooted to an old gameplay system can keep me playing for such a long time with no concern about that triple-A game sitting on the shelf. It proves that gameplay and concept will always take precedence over powerful engines and super graphics.

Iconoclasts represents this notion, but it does so with a very intriguing world and story revolving around said world and its idealisms. If you get excited when you see new MetroidVania games announced, this one will not disappoint you.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature and the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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